SAN DIEGO -- Drew Brees let the secret slip -- the San Diego Chargers would like to sign him to a long-term deal.

Brees was discussing his shoulder surgery and rehab during a conference call with San Diego reporters on Wednesday when he was asked if the team had told him anything about his future.

"They want to pursue me long-term," Brees said from Birmingham, Ala. "I know that's something that for the next few months everybody's going to be working on. As far as what's going on up to this point, it's not much, just the very beginning stages. I know they want me long-term and I want to be here long-term."

General manager A.J. Smith, who's always tightlipped about player transactions, at first refused to confirm that he or anyone else from the front office told Brees that.

"We don't have any comment on our business until we're complete with our business," Smith told The Associated Press.

Brees' agent, Tom Condon, said he hadn't heard from the Chargers.

"I know that Drew told me that, but I've had no conversations with the Chargers," Condon said.

A few hours later, Smith called reporters back to confirm what Brees said.

"We are going to try to long-term him," Smith said. "We originally wanted to do this in early February, but I guess Drew was just answering the question honestly."

Smith said he called Brees last Wednesday, a day before the quarterback had his torn right labrum repaired by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham.

"I just felt it was the perfect time to rest his mind that we were going to try to get a long-term deal done, and for him not to worry about it," Smith said. "I told him to just rehab, get better and lead us to a championship. And he said, 'Fine.' "

Brees played last season under a one-year, $8 million contract as the team's "franchise" player.

Smith stressed that the two sides still must negotiate a deal.

If the Chargers and Condon haven't agreed to a contract by Feb. 23, the Chargers can retain Brees' rights by using the franchise tag again, or make him the transition player.

As the franchise player, Brees would get a one-year deal that would pay him the average of the five highest-paid quarterbacks, or just under $10 million. If he's the transition player, he'd be paid the average of the 10 highest-paid quarterbacks.

The Chargers and Brees could continue to negotiate a long-term deal even if the team makes him the franchise or transition player.

"I would assume it would be pretty soon, obviously, because they probably want to get it done as soon as possible," Brees said. "With free agency coming up in March, the franchise-tag deadline in late February, I'm sure that that's something that's probably a big priority."

If Brees is designated the franchise or transition player, he could also negotiate with other teams, but the Chargers could match any offers he received.

Backup quarterback Philip Rivers, who's played sparingly in two seasons, still has four years left on his contract. The Chargers have said that they will have enough room under the salary cap to carry Brees and Rivers again next year.